Germany - Nutrition

Nutrition is a growing priority for Germany

Tackling malnutrition, especially in pregnant women, mothers, and young children, is one of Germany’s key development priorities within the country’s larger focus on agricultural and rural development for food and nutrition security.

Nutrition is an explicit focus of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the BMZ’s many nutrition initiatives fall under the umbrella of the ‘Special Initiative: ‘ONE WORLD - No Hunger’, launched in 2014 to advance food and nutrition security and rural development. It will receive €525million (US$588 million) in funding in 2021. According to the BMZ’s latest strategy, BMZ 2030, (launched in May of 2020), the ‘ONE WORLD – No Hunger’ umbrella is listed as one of the agency’s five key thematic priorities, which are intended to remain consistent between legislative periods.

According to the 2021-2025 coalition treaty, the German government will make food security and access to clean drinking water through sustainable agroecological approaches, as well as knowledge and technology transfer, especially in the field of smallholder agriculture, development priorities.

Germany was the driving force behind the G7’s 2015 ‘Broad Food Security and Nutrition Development Approach’, another manifestation of the growing importance of nutrition within Germany’s development cooperation. In June of 2013, Germany committed US$260 million for nutrition (2013 to 2020) at the Nutrition for Growth Summit and is considering topping up its pledge at the replenishment summit in December of 2021.

According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) data, Germany spent US$55 million on nutrition-specific projects in 2019 (see box); these are projects that are reported to the OECD Creditor’s Reporting System database under the ‘basic nutrition’ purpose code. Germany focuses its nutrition-specific interventions primarily on maternal and child health.

Nutrition-specific: Interventions that address immediate causes of undernutrition and have the improvement of nutrition (i.e., support for exclusive breastfeeding, supplementary feeding, etc.) as their primary objective.

Nutrition-sensitive: Interventions that address underlying causes of malnutrition and that take into account cross-sector actions and impacts (i.e., improving access to diverse foods).

It is more difficult to quantify donor support for nutrition-sensitive interventions due to their multi-sectoral nature (see box), however, according to the 2020 ‘Global Nutrition Report’, which relies on figures reported by donors themselves, Germany spent US$147 million on nutrition-sensitive interventions in 2017 (the latest year for which data is available), down from US$198 million in 2016. Germany’s nutrition-sensitive support focuses on improving the quality and diversity of food and improving access to nutritious food. Additional priorities related to nutrition include improving access to safe drinking water, health care, social protection, and knowledge of food storage and preparation. Based on the BMZ’s ongoing commitment to food and nutrition security, and given the threat that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to food security, Germany’s investment in nutrition-sensitive interventions is likely to remain stable.

BMZ shapes Germany’s policy on nutrition

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) shapes Germany’s policy on nutrition. It applies a multisectoral approach, combining nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions. Within the BMZ, the directorate titled ‘Sustainable supply chains; food and rural development; sustainability standards; Commissioner for the special initiative ONE WORLD – No Hunger’ is responsible for developing strategies on nutrition.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) represents Germany at the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and hosts the annual international conferences ‘Policies against Hunger’ and ‘Global Forum for Food and Agriculture’.